Five tips for eating well when you travel a lot for business

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Photo by Juan José Valencia Antía

If you’re serious about succeeding in business, you have to be serious about your health too. In fact I’d even go as far as saying that if you want to pull off the crazy stunts I do (read early mornings, late nights, social occasions, being on stage and being ‘on’ all the time) you have to treat your body like an elite athlete. No joke.

Fortunately many moons ago I was kinda an elite athlete. I was on the New Zealand age group water polo teams from when I was 14 years old through to 20 years old and it’s one of those sports that if you’re not super fit and super focused you just won’t be able to hack it. It’s tough yakka. To say the least.

And then I got older. And had kids. And started businesses. And had a few health complications. And I realised if I wanted to do everything I wanted to do in a day, I had to eat right and stay fit and strong, or I just couldn’t pull it off.

To give you an idea of my schedule, in the past 2 weeks I’ve been to:

SUNSHINECOAST-BRISBANE-SYDNEY-QUEENSTOWN-AUCKLAND-BRISBANE
SUNSHINECOAST-BRISBANE-SUNSHINECOAST
SUNSHINECOAST-SYDNEY-SUNSHINECOAST

Here’s my top tips to eating well when you are a frequent business traveller:

1. BE AWARE OF HOW AIRLINES ROLE & WHAT AIRPORTS HAVE WHAT

I live on the Sunshine Coast. Qantas has only recently begun flying from here to Melbourne & Sydney and their flight times aren’t always amazing. So I often end up flying Jetstar or Virgin, which means relying on their in house food service if I’m not organised. I don’t know what it is about the Sunshine Coast Jetstar service, but 9 times out of 10, no matter what time or day you fly, their food stocks are depleted, and about the best you’ll do is to get a pot of two minute noodles (zero nutritional content) or a packet of crisps and a beer. No vitamins there either.

If I’m short on time, I’ll rely on the Sumo Salad bar and grab a salad which is at the airport – but watch out for the heavy dressings. At the Sunshine Coast Airport, there’s not many other healthy options so look out!

Otherwise I stuff with me. I’ll consider what time I’ll arrive at the airport, how long I’ll have and whether this timing will fall on a main meal or snack time. A salad or leftover meal that can be eaten cold in a take away container. And I always try and travel with snacks in my handbag. Good options are:

– Cans of tuna
– Piece of fruit (not bananas – squashed in a bag is not a good look and border security on these is strict)
– Bag of nuts (almonds are my favourite)
– Water. Always.

I also know that some airports are shockers and I’ll make a point of therefore grabbing something BEFORE I get to the airport. Mackay Airport for example is a shocker. With all the FIFO workers, it’s deep fry central. About the best you can get is a chicken wrap. If you’re lucky.

2. GET A HOTEL/APARTMENT WITH COOKING FACILITIES LOCATE

Recently I spent 4 nights in Sydney, located at BreakFree hotel on George Street. The entrance to the hotel wasn’t spectacular, and the room definitely not five star, but the kitchenette was a massive plus featuring a fridge, microwave, two hot plates and sufficient utensils and cutlery to cook a meal.

3. GO TO THE SUPERMARKET ON ARRIVAL

With a kitchenette to use, on arrival I looked up on Google Maps for ‘nearest supermarket’ and was pleased to find a Woolworths within 600m. A quick visit there and for $40 I grabbed enough food to mostly get me through the next 4 days including:

– 3 pack of small hummus + a bag of carrot sticks pre cut for snacks on the run
– x4 bananas & x4 porridge in a pot which just requires adding hot water (read the label though and grab one with zero – low sugar) for breakfast each day
– x6 organic eggs to boil up and eat as snacks – instant protein!
– Packet of rice cakes for alternative snack with hummus and to eat with the small jar of marmite I bought from home (love my marmite!)
– X1 ripe avocado
– Bulk bin scoop of almonds for snacks
– X1 large vege soup from deli section – for 2 serves – did me for 1 lunch and 1 dinner
– X1 Asian salad – pre made
– X1 Tandoori chicken ready to toss through salad or eat on the go

4. PLAN OUT MEALS, EXERCISE & REST

On any business trip I pack as much in as I can. But I’ve learnt over time that as important as scheduling meetings, is scheduling food time. I also schedule in my exercise time. Know you’ll have a late business dinner involving alcohol one night? Make sure you counter it with a sleep in, a big walk or gym visit the next morning. Know you’ve got an early start and won’t get that walk in? Make sure you block out some time to go in the afternoon. Even if you don’t feel like it, once you get moving you’ll be glad you did.

5. ASK FOR HEALTHY

My fifth and final tip for eating well when you travel a lot for business is being upfront about your need to eat healthy. When clients offer to take me out and ask me what food I like I simply respond with ‘healthy food’. If I have a choice I’ll often opt for Asian (stirfrys and soups are generally pretty safe) or salad bars. Where raw food or wholefood options are available, I’ll shoot for those.

I hope you found these tips helpful and would love to hear from you on any tips you may have for eating well when you travel a lot for business too.

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